Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lessons Learned

Before tutoring at Suncrest Middle, I thought for sure that I wanted to teach high school students instead of middle school students. I suppose I had formed somewhat of a bias towards the older students during my volunteer hours. After spending this semester at Suncrest Middle, I have found that I would rather teach middle school students. I feel as though these students are at walking a fine line between the age of critical thinking and the age of vivid imagination. I observed students working on a project where they had to create their own version of Earth. They had to come up with their own continents and figure out where certain biomes belonged. They also named their planet, the continents, and the oceans found between these continents. During this project the students had such a great time being creative but at the same time used what they had learned in class to create a planet that "made sense". My time at Suncrest Middle has definitely changed my view of what it means to be a middle school student and a teacher of these students.

Next, I have come to terms with the fact that not every lesson is going to go according to plan and that not every student is going to be engaged with even the most exciting or interesting lessons. I tutored a student with behavior problems. She did not want to do anything that involved science the day I tutored her. I felt like I was making the assignment relevant to her, and yet she took every chance she could to make that relevance into an argument about how it did not apply to her. I should mention she is also a gifted student. She did have a few valid points, but I was so shocked that I student would be so against anything science related that she would actually argue with me. Later that period she became extremely disruptive and had to be removed from the classroom. I was shaken up to say the least. Days like these are enough to make a pre-service teacher want to switch majors, but I'm glad I had this experience. It just shows me that teaching is unpredictable. Even the greatest lessons are not going to work for every student, but you have to do your best and hope that you have planned something that the majority of the students will find interesting.

Finally, I have found that teacher collaboration is an amazing thing. I feel as though my mentor teacher and I have become somewhat of a team this semester. It is comforting to know that my mentor teacher and other teachers at Suncrest Middle are very approachable and willing to answer questions I have about the students or activities that seem to be effective in their classrooms. This is something that I did not have the opportunity to experience before my time spent at Suncrest Middle. The relationship I have with my mentor teacher has made this semester at Suncrest Middle much easier and very enjoyable. She knows what works and what doesn't work. She is willing to discuss tutor assignments and help me with any difficulties that I may have. I, too, try to help her in any way I can. Again, collaboration is definitely an amazing thing.